Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Rainy Days Before Thanksgiving Which Happens To Be My Sister's Birthday This Year

My first year of graduate school I separated graduate students into two classes, professionals and glorified undergraduates.

The professionals treated school like their job. They used their offices. They conversed with their colleagues. They studied hard. They put maximum effort into every assignment. Many could balance being a professional with their non-professional life. Some could not.

The glorified undergraduates acted like undergraduates. They were not professional.

But now I realized a major part of being professional is dealing with bullshit. A professional works when it is raining. A professional works no matter how stupid the assignment. A professional asks 'why' only after an assignment is finished.

I talked to this professor on the bus last night. He was getting back from San Antonio. He said it was 40 degrees warmer in San Antonio. He had his suit, his traveling bag, and his computer. His friend's flight was delayed by four hours, so he had to ride the bus.

I do not know if he thinks his life is hard. I do not know if he thinks his work is important. I do not know if he is happy. I do not know if he cares.

But I know I have to find out for myself.

Monday, November 20, 2006


I waste a lot of time. This fact does not make me a bad person. But I just wanted it out in the open.

Life is about balancing. It is about dealing with bullshit. People who fail cannot balance. They get caught up in the bullshit. People who are successful seem to "do everything" and find ways to either ignore or get around the bullshit.

Tyler Cowen at seems to always be reading five or six books at a time. His ability to read so many books has driven me crazy. Where does he find the time? Is he a genius or what? Does he really read them?

I have been reading the same three books for two months.

I read Hayek's The Counter-Revolution of Science in the shitter. I really think this is an important book that delves into a critical issue most economists ignore. Are we a science? Or, are we something entirely different? Hayek recites the history of how we got to where we are now.

I read Galbraith's Economics, Peace, and Laughter on the bus. Galbraith was not a great economist, but he was a great writer. His influence is more widespread than most economists would like to admit.

I read Joyce's The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man before I go to bed. I did not understand this book in high school. I understand it better now, but I prefer The Dubliners. Joyce captures the angst children and young adults who never exactly fit in feel.

When I really read something, it consumes me, and I finish it in a short period. I think these books are important, but I balance and decide I must come back to them in time. But will I ever get time? I guess that is another balancing question.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What Do I Want Them To Say About Me?

Milton Friedman died today. He was a great defender of freedom. A great man who stood against popular opinion for Truth. A man who would not give up on the world, even though the world repeatedly failed to meet his expectations.

I wrote "What do I want them to say about me?" in a book. Under it I had written, "Honest,". I wrote it like I had more things to write, but you know what, "honest" is enough.

Friedman was honest.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"Hey Big Man, Let Me Hold A Dollar"*

I went to a luncheon with the President of the University. It reminded me why I dislike politics. But it reminded that powerful men got that power for some reason. They might not be the best men for the job, but they did get the job.

The luncheon was filled with undergraduates so I remember a paragraph from James Buchanan's What Should Economists Do? while he was at this university:

"...If you allow me, for a moment, to strip the academic regalia and express myself solely and exclusively as a member of the general taxpaying public, I should argue the "product" now issuing from many tax-supported liberal arts colleges and universities does not measure up to my standards of human quality improvement. Instead of turning out "better" men and women, some of these institutions seem to me to be producing at least some young men and women who are demonstrably "worse" than their counterparts who did not enjoy the benefits of my tax dollars. I have on several occasions, along with others, called some of these products the "new barbarians," a term which seems descriptive in several respects and for which I find no need to apologize."

Most kids are not bad, but I think some do not learn the discpline and proper behavior until after college.

*I think this is from the John Boy and Billy show.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Graduate School Applications To Places I Did Not Get Into

After pursuing education for the last eighteen years, I have decided that I really enjoy learning. For the last five years while I have been in college from August to May, my favorite subject has been textbook economics. Then in the summer, I would go home and work with my father. He called my summer session, “learning economics the hard (or real) way.” After my first year of graduate school, I tried to explain to him that when you add calculus to economics it becomes extremely difficult. He wisely laughed at me.

After returning for my second year of graduate school, I finally realized that my father was right. Textbook economics is wonderfully interesting, as one of my former professors said, “microeconomics is the most fun you can have with your clothes on.” It has allowed me to generate ideas that have helped my father’s businesses. It has allowed me to evaluate my surroundings and see order and disorder that the vast majority does not or refuses to see. Knowing the whys and hows behind the everyday world is an addicting drug that is hard to quit; you understand that knowing everything is impossible, but you just keep striving for more knowledge. But the fact of the matter is my father is the real economist. He is the entrepreneur. He is the innovator that tears down the current constraints of society and pushes its limits to truthfully ‘make the world a better place.’ No matter how many years that I spend in school, he will always know more real economics than me.

Towards the end of my last semester at Bridgewater College, a future medical doctor disdainfully asked me “why do you want to be an economist?” I replied, “I want to really help people.” With this attitude, I went into an agricultural and applied economics’ program. I have since found out that agricultural economics’ does help people, but I am not convinced that they help people in the right way. Their idea that the impoverished need government programs, concentrated on agriculture, and paralyzed by bureaucratic red tape does not sit well with me. Many practitioners of agricultural economics have taken a ‘Robin Hood’ approach, stealing money from the rich, developed world taxpayers, and giving to a sub-sample of the poor, developing world and domestic farmers, while taking their middle man’s cut and allowing bureaucratic inefficiency to seize its share. Again, many of these programs do help people, but faith in the market and individuals have given way to faith in the ‘good intentions’ of self-interested bureaucrats.

These three poorly linked paragraphs tell the story of where I stand today. I am still thrilled to pursue knowledge. I still believe in the study of economics and its ability to unlock innovation and increase global welfare. But I cannot continue to study mainstream economics. I cannot continue to put blinders on and accept the flawed world that surrounds me, while I sit in my office creating intellectually stimulating but useless models. I cannot allow my father to be treated with indifference while agriculturalists and other special interests receive special attention that my father is forced to financially support. I still want to be an economist, but I want to do it the right way. I want to champion the market as the ultimate problem solver, not find ways to circumscribe it. I want to teach people to truly understand the beauty within the mutual benefit of exchange, and I want to enact policies that insure free exchange.

Simply, the economics department at George Mason offers me the best opportunity to find myself and meet my goals. It offers me the chance to continue to learn while being true to my father and myself.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Things I Thought While In Church

This whole chain of thoughts was stimulated by sitting next to a newlywed couple.

1. The spread of AIDS and population increases really show that there is a lot of sex in the world. I just read about the probabilities of spreading AIDS by any single encounter. All I can say is "a lot of sex."

2. Women's hands are much smaller than men's hands. This makes me feel better for some reason.

3. I would rather be around individuals who love people than to be around someone who has been baptized and goes to church every Sunday. These two are not mutually exclusive, but loving people is much more important than baptism.

4. Being honest, especially with oneself, is also more important than baptism.

5. Most people are afraid to say they are afraid. Most people will do anything to cover their fear.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Starting today, November 10th, 2006, the Frederic Bastiat Institute For The Consumer (FBIC)is open for business. Any donations can be mailed to me personally.

The Institute's follows Bastiat's philosophy:

"Treat all economic questions from the viewpoint of the consumer for the interests of the consumer are the interests of mankind."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why I Do Not Belong In Coffee Shops

This friend calls me up from a coffee shop. He tells me he is thinking of killing a professor. I run right over to try and talk him into doing it.

Since I feel obligated to buy something, I buy an iced coffee. I take one sip and realize iced coffee is just black coffee with ice. I find some Sweet-N-Low. I put it in, but that is not good enough. I go looking for cream. I cannot find any. I am already as high as a kite from the black coffee.

But there is this metal pot sitting on this guy's table. I try my best not to stare at this guy. He looks like some child molester I have seen in some movie. He stares at every women and caresses his computer mouse as he stares. (I just stare. I do not have a computer mouse.) He has headphones on, so I ask him if he is done with his metal pot. He affirms but has a strange look on his face. I take the pot. I tilt the pot, but cream does not come out. It is tea, honey, an opiate, but definitely not cream.

I quickly return the pot. I drink my black coffee over ice, try not to stare at the child molester, try not to voice my bad thoughts about the waitresses, and try to do work.

The moral of the story is caffeine is not good for you.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bono And Mary J. Blige Singing "One"

U2's One

Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you now
You got someone to blame
You say...

One love
One life
When it's one need
In the night
One love
We get to share it
Leaves you baby if you
Don't care for it

Did I disappoint you
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without
Well it's...

Too late
To drag the past out into the light
We're one, but we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other
Have you come here for forgiveness
Have you come to raise the dead
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head

Did I ask too much
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now it's all I got
We're one
But we're not the same
Well we
Hurt each other
Then we do it again
You say
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love the higher law
You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I can't be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt
One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
One life
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other


Friday, November 03, 2006

My Day Or "A Better Class Of Losers"

I wake up at 6:30AM this morning. It is so cold I am afraid to get out of bed. I finally get up an hour later.

ML gives me some good advice, but I do not understand it until 12 hours later.

Sam wows me with his knowledge in this group meeting. But I see our problem in a completely different way than he does. I want to force Africans to be white. Sam wants to model Africans as if they were white. Sam is right, but I want to be right.

I go to the most comical seminar I have ever went to. I was the only one who laughed.

I learn to never send an international student to do an American's job.

I go to this party at a house that is the reason I wanted to get a PhD.

During the party, I decide no matter how hard I try I cannot continue on the road I am going down now. Yeah, the house was nice. But the people in it were different than I am. They are not bad people just different.

After the party, I remember ML's advice. So I have made a decision, and after I finish something, I am going to change roads.